Doug Wheeler

Swamp Thing 109 (July 1991)

16079This issue’s pretty trippy. I think, in the final estimation (this issue’s his last), I like what Hoffman did for this Quest for the Elementals arc. He changed up his style, moved Swamp Thing away from horror to the psychedelic. Maybe he realized mushrooms can be scary, but they can be trippy.

As for Wheeler (also his last issue), he ties up the last loose end from Veitch’s run and has Abby talking about how it’s time for a new chapter to begin. Being self-aware, however, doesn’t make up for the silliness Wheeler’s put the series through.

And all he really does at the end of this huge war between the Green and the Grey is repeat Moore’s ceasefire from the war between Heaven and Hell. The issue’s decent, but because Wheeler gives his one likable character a lot of page time.

It’s much ado about nothing.

CREDITS

A Descent of Shadows, The Quest for the Elementals, Part Six; writer, Doug Wheeler; artist, Mike Hoffman; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 108 (June 1991)

16078Abby’s story comes to its predictable cliffhanger. Wheeler foreshadowed it way too early and then spends the rest of the issue building it into a cliffhanger for the whole issue. He never brings Abby and Tefé back to the others, so now Alec’s got to go on a rescue mission.

There’s also a reasonably good action sequence with Alec trying to escape his evil fish captors (it doesn’t play as silly as it sounds) but the final third of the issue is all talking. Talking heads with plants. Not the most dramatic stuff.

When there are little action asides (as the Grey attacks the Parliament), Hoffman draws it all too small. Based on the two-page spreads, it’s clear he needs both those pages for big action. Wheeler gives him a quarter page sometimes. It’s not exactly confusing, just not magnificent.

The strangest thing is how fallible Wheeler makes Alec.

CREDITS

Siege, The Quest for the Elementals, Part Five; writer, Doug Wheeler; artist, Mike Hoffman; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 107 (May 1991)

16077Didn’t Wheeler just do an issue where Alec’s in trouble in one place and Abby and Tefé are in trouble in another? It’s apparently just how he structures Swamp Thing.

This issue Abby and the baby are stuck at the Parliament, where she may or may not have unintentionally fallen into the Grey’s clutches. Meanwhile, Alec’s in some underwater prison with hundreds of other plant elementals. Wheeler’s “war” has them as soldiers, which makes one wonder how long a plant elemental is a plant elemental. There are only twenty-five or so at the Parliament, at least readily visible ones… are we talking decades here or just years?

Wheeler also rips the magic out of the plant elementals. He has the characters all explain it with pseudo-science. He’s being far too literal.

Still, it’s not as bad as it could be, just frequently predictable.

Hoffman’s trippy art’s okay too.

CREDITS

Stabs of Life Echoing in a Void, The Quest for the Elementals, Part Four; writer, Doug Wheeler; artist, Mike Hoffman; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 106 (April 1991)

16076I still can’t decide about Hoffman’s art. When he does the scenes of Alec interacting with the other plant people, it really does seem like he’s going for a particular style. When he’s drawing Abby, he can’t manage perspective or proportions. It’s all very confusing.

The issue itself is rather lame. Wheeler isn’t writing any worse, he’s just padding out a weak plot.

Abby’s been freaking out about Tefé’s new powers since the last issue–six weeks–and little else. It’s unbelievable, as Wheeler’s got Abby running away from Tefé.

Then Alec goes off to rescue some more of the elemental prisoners and runs into the absurd guest star. Alec and the guest star have a long scene with goofy exposition and one again remembers Wheeler’s inability to write real people.

He fills the issue with silly ideas instead.

Swamp Thing is getting to be more than a little tiring.

CREDITS

Dead Tribes and Forgotten Souls, The Quest for the Elementals, Part Three; writer, Doug Wheeler; artist, Mike Hoffman; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 105 (March 1991)

16075What is the deal with Hoffman’s art? If his style–which occasionally reminds of sixties and earlier comics–is unintentional, he’s incompetent. But if he’s intentionally doing this issue’s war comic scene like Swamp Thing is an old war comic, it’s fantastic.

And Hoffman’s Swamp Thing looks a lot like the Wes Craven movie costume. And if that choice is intentional, Hoffman’s giving this book a whole different layer.

However, it’s possible he’s just crap.

Wheeler’s story sets up this space opera fight against evil for the Green (Alec’s rescuing members previously captured by the evil Grey). Still, it could be worse. The development of Tefé being able to resurrect people is a neat one and it makes perfect sense.

When Abby and Tefé are in danger, Alec isn’t paying attention and easily could have been. Regardless of Wheeler’s intention for Alec’s ignorance it builds suspense.

It’s a strange issue.

CREDITS

Living Sacrifices, The Quest for the Elementals, Part Two; writer, Doug Wheeler; artist, Mike Hoffman; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 104 (February 1991)

16074This issue, establishing even more asinine backstory, really shows Wheeler’s problem. He’s interested in making his mark on Swamp Thing, not making his mark with Swamp Thing. He’s trying to wow with details instead of actions. This issue, Alec and Abby learn the Parliament contrived his birth as plant elemental in order to guarantee he’d go back in time and start the Parliament.

Also, the Green is sort of an alien; it landed on Earth. Such revelations make one wonder if anyone at DC really cared anymore. Maybe they expected the sales to plummet without Veitch or Moore.

This issue, luckily, has Bill Jaaska on the flashback art. He does a beautiful job with the grandiose, earth-shattering events. Wheeler covered some of them in his first issues, but nowhere does he acknowledge those issues, which is weird.

Terrible writing for Abby and weak Hoffman art round out the issue.

CREDITS

Matango, The Quest for the Elementals, Part One; writer, Doug Wheeler; artist, Mike Hoffman and Bill Jaaska; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 103 (January 1991)

16073Wheeler answers a reasonable question–why such a long break in Earth Elementals before Alec Holland (the previous Swamp Thing was thirty years prior)–with a silly, contrived answer.

The Parliament of Trees did try… only the evil fungus god got them. Or something along those lines.

It’s a dumb, obvious plot point. Wheeler’s retconned a lot about the Parliament since taking over the series and I can’t remember any of these developments being much good. He does it to make an excuse for his present day plot developments, which is not a good reason for a narrative detail.

Otherwise, the issue isn’t bad. Abby and Constantine’s midwife friend are on the run through hurricane-torn swamps while Alec and Tefé are on the run through the Green. There are a lot of scary fungus zombies after them.

Hoffman’s zombie designs are downright disturbing; the issue succeeds as a thriller.

CREDITS

Exodus; writer, Doug Wheeler; penciller, Mike Hoffman; inkers, Doug Hazlewood and Mickey Ritter; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 102 (December 1990)

16072Okay, the shaman does have a name but only Alec uses it. The whole character’s a mistake, so why dwell.

This issue has social commentary, a magic ceremony to encourage Tefé to regrow her body, Swamp Thing fighting monsters and a few other things. There’s even a new supporting cast member who Wheeler doesn’t take enough time to introduce.

It’s a very hurried issue–and should be, it’s set against an approaching hurricane–and Wheeler’s got a good hard cliffhanger.

Sadly, Hoffman doesn’t have room to give it the appropriate space but it’s still effective.

Peter Gross inks Hoffman to mixed results. They remove Swamp Thing’s eyeballs, so Alec’s a lot less sympathetic. Their people feel very horror comic influenced, which would work better without some of Wheeler’s silly details. The fight’s boring; that failing probably has to do with the hurried pace.

It’s not bad, but far from good.

CREDITS

And All the King’s Horses…; writer, Doug Wheeler; penciller, Mike Hoffman; inker, Peter Gross; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 100 (October 1990)

16070Not much of a hundredth issue celebration for Swamp Thing apparently. Unless you count Wheeler going back and retconning a lot of Moore and Veitch’s details about the Parliament of Trees and the new Earth Elemental storyline. And the time travel storyline. Lots of retconning.

But Broderick can draw trees, so at least the trip to the Parliament looks all right.

Kelley Jones handles some of the other pages, with Swamp Thing in Antarctica searching for Eden. The Jones pages are fantastic, even if he doesn’t have as interesting scenery to render.

Most of the issue’s exposition and there’s a lot of it (because it’s retconning exposition). It makes the issue drag to say the least. None of Wheeler’s new details are any good; they’re all set-up for some future storyline. And they raise the question of whether he’s corrupting the previous writers’ intentions.

The comic fails to resonate.

CREDITS

Tales of Eden; writer, Doug Wheeler; pencillers, Kelley Jones Pat Broderick; inkers, Jones and Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 99 (September 1990)

16069Wheeler writes an interesting scene between Alec and Constantine. Alec finally loses control with him and lifts him up, presumably to do him harm. It’s a bit of a shock, since Alec’s always restrained in his anger towards him. Sadly, Broderick’s art ruins the scene.

Strangely, Broderick handles the other plant guy just fine. Wheeler splits the issue between Alec trying to get Tefé’s body back and an escaped plant demon from Hell. Okay, it’s not really a demon but I don’t think Wheeler’s ever provided the right noun.

And on the plant demon and his followers–except the flashback, which both Wheeler and Broderick fumble–Broderick does okay. So there’s clearly something about Swamp Thing he just can’t visualize.

The usual art problems aside, the issue’s not bad. Wheeler can’t write Abby’s scene, but the inability’s no surprise and it passes quickly.

It’s still a child in jeopardy story.

CREDITS

Leaves in a Tempest; writer, Doug Wheeler; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.

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